Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz met with reporters prior to the Eagles’ open practice at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday night, and spent some time talking about his linebacker group and the injury suffered by Kamu Grugier-Hill on Saturday.
A short time later, another potentially big injury happened, this one to defensive end Joe Ostman.
Ostman was having a strong offseason and even stronger training camp. He was in line to earn a spot on the 53-man roster after spending his rookie season last year on the practice as an undrafted free agent from Central Michigan. Ostman may have even been playing himself into the role of the fourth defensive end behind Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Vinny Curry.
That is now in jeopardy after Ostman had to be removed from the Linc’s turf on a cart after suffering what appeared to be a knee injury during a special teams drill. His teammates came over to console him before the cart took off for the tunnel. That’s never a good sign.
More on the extent of the injury probably won’t be known until Monday when the Eagles reconvene for practice at their training facility at the NovaCare Complex.
A short time later, receiver Shelton Gibson also limped off. Gibson is considered a longshot to make the team since the Eagles have four locks already and may only have room for one or two more pass catchers in a very crowded field of contenders.
It’s Ostman’s injury that stings.
It came on the heels of the knee injury suffered by Grugier-Hill a day earlier. Grugier-Hill will miss at least the regular-season opener against the Washington Redskins and probably more games than that. Like Ostman, Grugier-Hill was having a strong camp and was lining up as a starter.
The Eagles added some depth at linebacker by signing Asantay Brown earlier in the day on Sunday.
It is likely that general manager Howie Roseman will have to seek a replacement for Ostman, if only for depth purposes to get them through the preseason’s slate of games.
As it is, the Eagles are likely to not use starters Brandon Graham or Derek Barnett very much in any of the four games, the first of which comes up Thursday night when the Tennessee Titans visit the Linc.
That leaves them with Vinny Curry, who is another one the team may want to use sparingly in the games that don’t count, Josh Sweat, Daeshon Hall, and rookie Shareef Miller.
Perhaps Roseman finally dials up Connor Barwin, who said he would like to play again for the Eagles and is a free agent.
Or maybe the GM has grander plans, to try to trade for a defensive end, such as Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney or even a linebacker. The Eagles had been linked to a trade for Jets linebacker Darron Lee in the offseason, but a deal never happened.
Veteran safety Johnathan Cyprien has his work cut out for him to make a roster spot. By all accounts, he had a good practice on Sunday night.
Schwartz was asked about him prior to the practice.
“We are going to plug him in in a lot of different places,” said the defensive coordinator. “We expect a lot from our safeties. We need multi-dimensional players; we think he is. We'll just see where it takes us.
“It's a little tough coming five days into camp or five practices in, whatever it is. But he's a veteran player, and it's really a matter of terminology, picking it up. Hopefully in the next couple days he'll have a really good understanding of where we are and what we're asking him to do…I think he fits well with us.”
More than 40,000 fans showed up for the Eagles’ one and only open practice of camp. For the first time, fans were charged $10 per ticket and the money went to the Eagles’ Autism Challenge, and it was announced that the team raised more than $475,000 for cutting-edge autism research.